Last King, The
Posted Apr 1 2006
Let me not beat around the bush with this one. While I was a big fan of this book's predecessor, The Dying Ground, the follow up just wasn't working for me. This isn't merely a case of too high expectations, but I just didn't connect with any of the characters and the plot simply didn't engage me. As with the first novel, the story is told from the perspective of Maceo Redfield, a former high school baseball star who has left his home of Oakland for two years. I don't want to spoil the plot of The Dying Ground, but essentially, Maceo is forced to leave as a result of a sticky web of relationships and deceptions that leaves numerous deaths in its wake, including one of his best friends. In spite of his status as a "square" Maceo gets pulled deep into the streets. For round two, Maceo gets sucked into the drama of an NBA star charged with murder, with numerous twists and turns involving familiar characters, including Maceo's friend Holly. Tramble continues to insert social commentary into her writing and makes detailed references to Oakland land marks. But while she is a very descriptive writer, this novel just seemed a bit rushed and even a bit corny in some places. If I'm correct, some passages were copied verbatim from The Dying Ground. I haven't read the first book in awhile, but some parts of The Last King seemed to be awfully familiar.
If you haven't read the The Dying Ground, make sure to pick it up. Don't let this be your intro to Tramble's work. If you have read it, you're probably intrigued enough to see where the story picks up. While it was far from a horrible read, it left me wanting more, but not necessarily in the best way.
I, for one, eagerly await the third book in this saga and hope that Tramble can recapture the magic of her first book with stronger character development and a more intriguing plot.